What’s in a record? A closer look at the loneliest play in basketball
That’s what Brian Napier tried to do in his most recent hoops piece in the Columbia Missourian, looking at Missouri’s run to beat this record, and evaluating just how tough it is to do. It really is a well done piece, and it is quite fascinating to read.
While on the surface, a free throw seems so easy, right? It’s unguarded, there’s not a big body in your face trying to block your shot, and it’s just you and the ball... Seems simple enough, but in actuality, as Napier said in his piece, “Few situations in sports are as anxiety-provoking, unnerving and intimidating as the basketball free throw.” Why?
From the article:
Basketball is a fast-paced game by nature. Foul shots pause that speediness and instantly thrust a player, ready or not, into the spotlight. Add in external factors — screaming fans, nervousness, frustration, etc., to name a few — and one slip of the hand, one blip in the routine or one distraction can throw the shooter out of whack.
Fans, the players, the SEC, everyone (well, it seems like everyone), is aware that things are not going well for the Tigers so far this season. They are on a three-game losing streak, and it seems the only shots they CAN hit with any consistency is free throws. That’s what makes this even more of a remarkable achievement, Napier said. The Tigers have shown that they can remain calm, cool, and collected when alone at the line with everyone watching. (next step would be extending that OUTSIDE the line, of course)
Here’s a breakdown of the players contributing to the streak:
Dru Smith (16 for 16) carried the heaviest bulk of the load. Then— Mitchell Smith (9 for 9), Xavier Pinson (9 for 9), Torrence Watson (7 for 7), Mark Smith (4 for 4), Reed Nikko (4 for 4), Tray Jackson (2 for 2), Javon Pickett (2 for 2) and Kobe Brown (1 for 1).
Since New Year’s Day, the Tigers rank ninth nationally in FT shooting percentage (82%) and are the best foul-shooting team in the SEC since 2020 began as well. Overall this season, the Tigers rank 16th nationally in FT shooting%.
What exactly contributes to free throw success? Napier detailed a bunch of research in sports psychology that (again), I highly recommend checking out, and I will have a standalone post later about this, along with some things I learned as a result of my own deep (deeeep) dive. (!!!!)
So next time you’re watching the Tigers and cursing Mitchell Smith for missing a crucial free throw that would tie a game (that never should have been that close), keep this in mind. It’s lonely out there. And what the Tigers did, breaking that NCAA record of 54 consecutive made free throws, is not an easy task. There’s a reason that Wake Forest’s record stood for as long as it did.
To the links!
Yesterday at Rock M
- Nate is back! Nate is back! After a much needed hibernation period, Nate is back! Basing it off RMFL (Rock M Fearless Leader) Sam’s annual basketball predictions, Nate is doing the same for the football team. Let’s just say we should all temper our expectations.
- Sammy covered the new surprise JUCO commit, Aussie Benjamin Key.
- Sam shared a new FanPulse. To exactly no one’s surprise, confidence in Coach Martin’s team is.... on the decline. You know who has NOT lost confidence in Cuonzo?!? THIS GIRL.
- PowerMizzou (free): Gabe and Mitchell put out a new episode of their PowerMizzou Podcast with guest, recent Mizzou grad and NFL hopeful, Yasir Durant. In this ep, Yasir accuses Gabe of not interviewing him enough. Have a listen!
- PowerMizzou (subscribers): Sean Williams of Rivals had a breakdown of 2021 target and Jackson, MO native Connor Tollison’s unofficial visit.
- Christian Holmes transfer news wrap-up: Souichi Terada (KC Star). Updated scholarship chart based on news (PowerMizzou). Dave Matter (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). SDS staff reports (Saturday Down South).
- Benjamin Key commitment news wrap-up: Dave Matter (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Sean Williams (PowerMizzou). SDS staff reports (Saturday Down South).
- Saturday Down South: Andrew Olson wrote that Missouri is set to host former Mississippi commit, Kris Abrams-Draine this weekend on an unofficial visit.
- Drink’s coaching staff was sharing out this pretty sweet new graphic to their twitter accounts Thursday afternoon:
- And the man in charge himself put out this “bat signal”, as Sam so eloquently called it. This was obviously a reference to what became of Key’s commitment. I like it.
- 2021 East St. Louis QB Tyler Macon will be taking an unofficial visit this weekend.
- Okay, so this is REALLLLLLLY COOL. So glad Nick Bolton is a Tiger!
No linebacker finished with a higher grade in coverage than Nick Bolton did in 2019. pic.twitter.com/nKxHycz5vR— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 23, 2020
- STL Today: Dave Matter held his regularly scheduled weekly chat, focusing mainly on hoops & football. Dave and BenFred reunited for a new Eye on the Tigers pod, asking if Cuonzo’s Tigers can bounce back, and if this year’s Super Bowl happens without Mizzou.
- St Louis Post-Dispatch: Dave examined the high stakes the SEC-Big 12 Challenge holds this weekend for NCAA tourney hopefuls.
- KC Star: Souichi asked, is Mizzou’s basketball season is over? Newsflash: it’s not. We’ve played what Bart Torvik called the third toughest schedule in the SEC.
- JTilly injury update: On Thursday’s SEC teleconference, Cuonzo said Cuonzo Martin said JT’s more “week to week” with the stress fracture now and he’s out of the boot. He’s out of the boot, is active, and has been in the weight room, per KC Star’s Souichi Terada.
- PowerMizzou (subscribers): Mitchell said Mizzou is among the high-major suitors in on a now-healthy 4 star guard, Donovan Williams.
- Truman’s Tales/FanSided: Rilee Stapleton wrote about the Studs and Duds of the Texas A&M game.
- The men’s team looks for another Q1 win on Saturday as they visit Morgantown, West Virginia to take on HuggyBear’s Mountaineers, who are... umm... pretty good. Just how good? From Dave Matter’s chat on Thursday:
Based on some of the metrics - and this is hard to believe - you can make a case this is the best defensive team Bob Huggins’ has ever coached. You’re talking about a deserving Hall of Fame coach whose built his career on lockdown defenses - and this could be his best defensive team. Just a few minutes ago on the SEC conference call, John Calipari said he recently told Huggins that this West Virginia team might be good enough to win it all this year.
- Check out Friend of the Dive Cuts pod, Blake Lovell’s breakdown of net rankings for the SEC-Big XII Challenge for further insight into what could be a rough one.
Here’s how the SEC/Big 12 Challenge looks from a NET ranking standpoint. Big opportunities for both conferences. pic.twitter.com/4P9l0MB8d5— Blake Lovell (@theblakelovell) January 23, 2020
- Love to see it, DRU! You know what we’d also like to see though? Less turnovers, perhaps, and some wins for the black & gold.
- Freshmen Aijha Blackwell and Hayley Frank continue to impress, and could be the best freshmen duo in Mizzou women’s hoops history.
Various Mizzou Sports / Other Mizzou News
- No. 20 Tiger Gymnastics is in Auburn,AL to take on the Tigers of another colored stripe. The dual will be televised on SEC Network+ as part of their weekly gymnastics coverage, and starts at 7pm. (MUTigers.com)
- #TigerStyle is back on the mat this weekend as they host NIU and Cleveland State as another MAC title looms. (MUTigers.com)
- Mizzou Tennis opens its season on Saturday with a doubleheader against Western Illinois at 11am and 3pm. Head Coach Colt Gaston previews the season below:
- In non-sports news, #MizzouMade journalist Jim Lehrer (BJ ‘56), who co-founded PBS News Hour, died at the age of 85. According to Dave Matter (STL P-D), he had just been on campus for Homecoming in October.
Mizzou in the Pros/Former Mizzou Sports figures News
- Clutchpoints’ Skyler Carlin analyzed how good Drew Lock can actually become.
- Denver Post: Joe Nguyen published an in-depth piece with Von Miller where, among other things, he talks about Drew’s performance and how HE thinks he would do on offense. (as always, good luck reading it- this site drives me crazy though I love what I CAN read)
- Derek Dooley back to the NFL? Possible, reports Dave Matter and Athletic NYC beat reporter, Dan Duggan.
Report here that former Mizzou OC Derek Dooley interviewed for NY Giants staff job. Makes sense. He worked under Jason Garrett in Dallas and with him in Miami https://t.co/2hauCFuAGY— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) January 23, 2020
- Former Mizzou All-American receiver Hank Burnine died this week at 87. According to Dave Matter’s tweet, he led the nation in receiving in 1955, and was a member of the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame.
- Melanie Rau of the Missourian reported that two former Missouri baseball players have received non-roster invites to Spring Training: Cameron Misner (Marlins) and Trey Harris (Braves, already reported in Thursday links).
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